Founder & CEO, The Wine Company
Just get ‘stuck in!’ You’ll have plenty of time to learn along the way. This time next year, you’ll wish you started earlier. Don’t over analyse the risks and focus on what can can go wrong. Focus on the upside and the potential, believe in yourself and more importantly, believe in your idea. Falling down is not failure, it’s an invaluable lesson!
I am 25 years old, born in the UK, but lived in Kenya my whole life. I graduated from Wellington College in 2009 and went to study Politics, Philosophy and Economics at the University of Manchester. After graduating from the University of Manchester in 2012, I immediately did my masters at the University of Warwick in Business Management.
Whilst I was doing my masters dissertation on Diageo, I learned a lot about the operations and intricacies of the company, and I was inspired by the magnitude of brands and market share they held globally – Diageo was formed in 1997 and today their turnover is a staggering 16 billion pounds!!!
One fine winter morning in Coventry, I woke up and was tired of writing my dissertation. Therefore I decided to take a break. It was then when I thought “What if I start my own beverage distribution company back home…” It started off as a joke, today it is a fully functioning company at the forefront of alcohol beverage distribution in Kenya.
The Wine Company specialises in the importation and distribution of entry-level, premium and ultra-premium wines and spirits within the East African region. Our aim is to bridge the gap between price and quality in the East African market. Our business model is to cater for the entire market and hence we have products ranging from entry-level whiskeys at $3 a bottle to champagnes at $600 a bottle. We want to satisfy the growing local demand for specialised products and the ever-increasing tourism industry where guests don’t want to settle for less.
The Wine Company was founded on the belief that East Africans should have access to the finer things in life. A region blessed with an abundance of sunshine, beautiful white beaches and expansive savannahs needs to be admired with a glass of vintage Rosé, and that is why we’re here. Whether it is Champagne breakfasts in the wild or chilled cocktails as the sun goes down, The Wine Company is here to quench your thirst.
The company was officially incorporated in July 2012 and now is in its 4th year of operations. In this short time we have become a leading player in the beverage market in Kenya and now intend on expanding our coverage to the Ugandan and Rwandan markets by end year.
I started off doing everything – accounts, logistics, deliveries, sales, procurement, operations – I had to rent vans to do deliveries to clients etc – it was VERY hectic but I wouldn’t have it any other way. You have start at the bottom and work your way to fully understand your business and the problem areas associated with it – this is the only way to correct them and put in systems and controls.
Today we employ 19 staff and have our own lorries and vans for deliveries and are supplying ALL supermarkets, most restaurants, bars, hotels, night clubs and wine shops too.
We are now planning to set-up our own distillery and bottling plant for the local market.
Do what you love and you’ll never work a day in your life! It’s cliche and simple, but totally hits the nail on the head… Wake up every morning with the fire and excitement of doing what you love – it’s the only way to turn routine into excitement. The ONLY constant is change! Don’t get buried in your comfort zone – you have to keep reinventing and adapting to stay relevant and on top.
The wine business in Africa, and the alcohol business in general is growing at a phenomenal rate. Eastern Africa, mainly Kenya, Rwanda and Uganda are among the top 5 highest countries for alcohol consumption per GDP capita per year in Africa – this presents a huge market and opportunity for any kinds of alcoholic products, not just wine. I’m a firm believer that you can trace a country’s development by their alcohol consumption patterns. The more a country develops, the larger their middle class grows and the greater the purchasing power, results in a transition from beer consumption to wine consumption – as consumers become more conversant with high value goods. According to Euromonitor, beer consumption in Kenya is declining yearly and wine consumption in increasing yearly. It’s an exciting time to be a part of this trend and to be servicing such a market that is growing daily.